Friday, September 08, 2006

Review: Half of an Elephant

Lately I seem to be reviewing picture books written by author-illustrators with single names: oneones, Demi, and now Gusti. Is this a new trend?

No matter, Gusti has what it takes to entertain the youngsters if Half of an Elephant is any indication. An award-winning illustrator from Argentina, Gusti uses "digital images of numerous discarded objects 'to show children that art can be created from objects that usually end up in the garbage can.'" And uses him he does. The discarded object illustrations are dynamic and quite humorous in their composition.

The story begins with an unexplained catastrophe: "One night, all of a sudden the world in two." An elephant, pictured on the cover, finds his back half is missing. In his search for the rest of him, he meets other animals missing a half. And they're all suffering from a sense that something is missing.

On the other side of the world, the other halves of the animals are having the exact same problem. And combining two halves of two different animals doesn't solve anything. Some animals talk too much, and when a monkey half and an elephant half join up, they're too heavy to climb a tree.

Fortunately, all ends well for the animals, but children will love the mess inbetween as the animals combine into strange elephant-monkey, duck-elephant, chameleon-elephant hybrids.

New from Kane/Miller, Half of an Elephant is lots of creative fun for kids ages 4-8 and is an excellent choice for an art lesson at school or at home. Read the book and inspire discarded-object art.